The Mainstreaming of IBM Watson

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Capitalizing on Big Data: Analytics with a Purpose

At some point, folks will have to stop introducing IBM Watson as the computer that beat human Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings in 2011. Its Big Blue owners are doing their part by working diligently at making that far from the platform’s most important accomplishment.

This week, IBM and Twitter, building upon their partnership that was announced last October, said that they are offering cloud-based data services aimed, according to eWeek, at combining Twitter’s massive amount unique data flow with Watson’s deep analytic capabilities to improve business decision making. More than 100 customers are using the applications.

It seems like a great teaming:

IBM said it is able to isolate important information from “noise” on Twitter by enriching and analyzing Twitter data in combination with millions of data points from other streams of public and business data – such as weather forecasts, sales information and product inventory stats. This helps to uncover powerful correlations that drive more actionable insights.

It’s not the only move IBM has made with Watson. Earlier this month, the company acquired AlchemyAPI. TechCrunch says that the deal provides Watson access to a community of more than 40,000 developers building cognitive apps. It quotes IBM to the effect that the goal of the app is to enable machines to interact naturally with humans to determine next steps to be taken.

WatsonThe types of applications that AlchemyAPI will enable already were under development by IBM. InformationWeek’s Doug Henschen offered a slideshow highlighting examples of the jobs that the platform can take on. IBM Watson, especially when backed by AlchemyAPI, can act as a consumer behavior analyst, personal shopper, sales assistant, consumer-support rep, travel agent, veterinary assistant, medical school tutor, image analyst, facial recognition expert and medical diagnostician. This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Human resources certainly is an area in which Watson can excel, particularly when enhanced by AlchemyAPI. Den Howlett at Diginomica gives an expert’s take on the use of Watson to help assess employees and prospects. His take is that predictive analysis is coming to human resources and that the IBM tool potentially is valuable, but that it must be used with a tremendous amount of care.

It is increasingly clear that IBM has turned Watson into far more than a parlor trick. The acquisition of AlchemyAPI will accelerate its progress. The platform, and others like it, will become an increasingly common presence in everyday life.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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